Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Freedom Writers Diary

Last night James and I watched the movie Freedom Writers, starring Hilary Swank. What a great movie. And a fabulous tie-in to the 8 Ball Chicks book. The movie is the true story of Erin Gruwell, a first-time teacher who gets a job in the inner city of Los Angeles. Many of her students are in gangs. Within her very racially diverse classroom, Gruwell helps the students to find common ground through reading about war, and violence, and keeping their own journals. It is an extremely powerful film. Plus, it has a scene in a library! What more could you want from a movie?

Since it is Banned Books Week, I was reminded that about a year ago I read a news article about the book Freedom Writers Diary - a book that Gruwell wrote with her students. It seems a teacher in Perry Township, Indiana lost her job for attempting to use the book with her own at-risk students. Here's the story.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Pam Trivia Time

Q: What is Pam's favorite time of year?

A: Banned Books Week!

Every year the American Library Association, along with American Booksellers Association, sponsors Banned Books Week to celebrate the freedom to read, and to educate about the consequences of censorship. The American Library Association records book challenges reported to them by schools and libraries. They receive about 500 reports per year, and estimate that for every challenge reported 4 go unreported. For the past several years I have been creating displays in my library of books that have been challenged. I often get comments from students who are surprised to find their "favorite book" on the list, or stunned that one of the books they read as a child is on the "hit list."

This year Banned Books Week runs from September 26 through October 3.

See my Banned Books Week webpage for more information.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Gangs in the NYT

So, a funny thing about Sike's book is that although it is clearly labeled as a "year of" book, I cannot tell what time of year anything happens, or even if the story is being told in a linear fashion, which all of the other books did. This book is divided into geographic sections (LA, San Antonio, Milwaukee). I am assuming that each of these places was visited, in turn, for some portion of the year, but so far I cannot tell for sure. I have just finished the first part, about Los Angeles, and yesterday came across this story in the New York Times about a gang bust there, in which 1,400 police officers rounded up 45 gang members. While I have no doubt that the police felt this was a necessary step to curb gang violence, it is also clear from Sikes book that people who live in South Central live daily with profiling and harassment, regardless of their gang affiliation.


Growing up I always wished I was a twin. I was really jealous of twins, especially identical twins. When I was pregnant I wished for twins (but once my daugher was born I was immensely grateful not to have had twins - how do their parents ever get any sleep?) I am always fascinated with stories about twins, which makes reading Logan and Nolan Miller's book that much more fun. They are extremely funny and are the type of twins who do almost everything together. They live and work together, and share a cellphone and a car.

Today, by chance I found out that the New York Times maintains a page dedicated to stories they have done about twins. I will enjoy purusing this.

Journalism and ethics

Gini Sikes tries hard to remain impartial as she delves into the extremely violent world of girl gangs. She has to work very hard to maintain her composure, for instance, when a young woman recounts beating up a gang rival which includes a description of raping the other young woman with a pipe. As the narrative continues, the storyteller laughs as she explains how two police officers witnessed the bloody scene and did nothing. Sikes does become more involved with the lives of some of her subjects, including going to court with them and assisting with making phone calls. The phone calls, and other appearances she makes, are requested not because Sikes has any insider information, or knows how to negotiate the system any better than her subjects, but simply because she is white.

When I lived in Tucson my husband and I were involved with the Pima County Interfaith Council and got a taste of what white privilege meant. The Council assisted a group of low-income, Hispanic residents who had had serious damage done to their homes due to a highway construction project nearby. Huge cracks in walls and foundations were evident. However, the construction company refused to pay for the repairs claiming that the statute of limitations had run out. When a large group of us from the Council showed up at a meeting, which now included mostly white members, a deal was finally made.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Movie Pick of the Month - No Impact Man

No Impact Man, aka Colin Beavan has been getting a lot of attention lately with his newly released movie, a documentary of his year of living without making an impact on the environment. The New Yorker, along with his wife and daughter, gave up elevators, taxis, washing machines and much more. The movie was released earlier this month, and will be in Boston starting October 2, (I doubt we will ever see it on the South Shore) so I haven't seen it yet, but am looking forward to it. He also has a book and a blog. I've looked at a few blog entries, and will add the book to my list to read later. Yesterday he was interviewed on NPR's Talk of the Nation.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Book Blogger Awards

This is Book Blogger Appreciation Week. The BBAW Awards Committee has announced winners in a variety of categories. http://bookbloggerappreciationweek.com/index.php/awards

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Bonus Books - My 200th post!

Since I've read my "themed-books" for the month, I have two bonus books to start on. In 8 Ball Chicks, journalist Gini Sikes describes the inside world of girl gangs. This work was published in 1992. I received a copy courtesy of the Westborough (Massachusetts) Public Library.

As a read-aloud book with my husband, I've selected a recently published book: Either You're In or You're in the Way, by twin brothers Logan and Noah Miller. The authors spent a year, following their father's death in prison, making a movie about his life. The book was just published earlier this year, but I was still able to purchase a used copy of it. The movie they made, Touching Home, is set to be released next year.

Rubbing Elbows with the Authors

I occasionally contribute to the Internet Review of Books. This month's issue features an essay I wrote: "Rubbing Elbows with the Authors".

Monday, September 14, 2009

Wrapping up Roose

One of the biggest personal challenges Roose faced while attempting to fit in at Liberty was trying to ignore the overt homophobia that was all too apparent in his professors and classmates. Misinformation about homosexuals was actively taught in his General Education classes, and his friends threw the words "homo"and "gay" around regularly as insults. My middle-school aged daughter is mature enough not to do this. Conflicted about defending his lesbian aunts, and his gay friends from Brown, he goes to talk about the issue with one of the school's pastors, who clearly assumes Roose is worried about himself and discusses reparation therapy, and group counseling. To be fair, Roose does not defend his Liberty friends to his family and friends from Brown, who clearly have their own prejudices and beliefs about his new classmates.

In a strange twist of fate, Roose becomes an instant celebrity when it is discovered that he conducted the last print interview with Jerry Falwell, a soft piece about the man himself - hobbies, idosyncracies, etc. for the Liberty University student newspaper. Falwell died two weeks after the interview was published, just as students were winding up their final exams. I remember living in South Texas when Selena was murdered. And I was a relatively new Bay Stater (that's the official name for one who lives in Massachusetts, really!) when John John Kennedy's plane went down. The wall to wall coverage of both of these events was surreal to me, but I doubt it could even begin to compare what it must have been like to have been at Liberty when Falwell passed. Roose questions writing the "fluff" story, even after Falwell's death, but he does recognize what he gained from it - he was able to humanize the man who he had usually known to be demonized. Roose cites some of Falwell's writings in the Selected Bibliography at the end of his book, but does not mention the only one I read: If I Should Die Before I Wake (1986), his book about abortion. I read it when it first came out, when the Moral Majoirty was in its heyday, and I remember being surprised that I wasn't horrified by this work, even though I knew before I read it that my opinions were at complete opposition to his. What I found out by reading the book though, was that Falwell was actually trying to help unwed mothers by providing shelter, food and clothing for them and their babies, and assisting with finding adoptive families for those who wished to it. I imagine that this minor realization is the closest I will come to feeling what Roose did at the time.

Roose finds community among his friends at Liberty, and at Thomas Road Baptist Church. As a choir member he experiences a "tingly feeling" in his fingers during worship. This actually happens to him twice. He never converts, though. I think that the tingly feeling he described had more to do with the spirit of community than the holy spirit. I sometimes get a similar feeling when I am with my women's spirituality group and we call in the four directions. Do I think the spirits of the north are entering my body? No. Do I think getting out of the house for an evening and spending some time with some like-minded women is a spiritual experience? Definitely. Ecstatic experiences are common in all religions. I think they come from community.

My final thought, after reading Roose's book is simply a question: How do evangelicals justify their belief in a "loving" God, with the wrath that they think He will unleash on non-believers for all eternity? How can eternal punishment be just?

Saturday, September 12, 2009

On Librarians and Libraries

I was beginning to wonder about Liberty's library. Would Roose ever mention it? Did he ever go there? The answer to the first question is yes, finally, on page 248. The answer to the second question is: I don't know, after reading the whole book I find his only mention of the library is part of a rant about the anti-intellectual culture found on campus. "You start looking back at Liberty's institutional history and realizing why, for example, the school library wasn't built until a regional accreditation board mandated it." Perhaps, if this is the case, we can forgive him if actually never went there. He also mentions that even among the professors and administrators that too much questioning seems like a bad thing. The professors themselves engage in something we try to discourage at Bridgewater State College among our students: namely "cherry picking" quotes that fit their argument.

Writers do love to use librarians as the "go to" profession when they need to describe a certain "square" look, though. (Do they even realize we can help them with their research, too?) Roose follows in the footsteps of authors Benyamin Cohen and Frances Mayes (see posts on May 22 and July 2) with this illustration of Pastor Rick "...a tall mustachioed sixty-something man, clad in a red cardigan and low-sitting glasses, who looks like he could have been a reference librarian if he hadn't ben called to the ministry."

The Liberty Way

Liberty University students are held to a moral code spelled out in "The Liberty Way", a booklet that explains the rules and expectations of the college, and punishments for breaking them. These include: reprimands, fines (some quite hefty - up to $500 for having sexual intercourse), and community service. Roose, in his effort to fit in, abstains from sex and alcohol while he is there. Giving up drinking allows him to join the choir at the Thomas Road Baptist Church. He finds it is quite a different feeling for him to wake up on Sunday and not have a hangover. He also loses weight. All in all he doesn't seem to mind giving up the bottle. In giving up sex, though, he finds an interesting challenge. He first manages his self-imposed celibacy the way most people would, with "sex for one". But Liberty frowns upon this type of self love and actually has a self help group for chronic masturbators called "Every Man's Battle". He attends one meeting out of curiosity, and finds the pastor leader very concerned about him, so he attempts to give up masturbation as well. (Roose doesn't mention if they have a comparable group for women on campus). Even as Roose attempts to give this up, and appreciates everyone's concern for him, he questions the motivation behind it. How does his giving up masturbation make world a better place? Will the hungry eat tonight if he denies himself this pleasure?

My question to those who, for religious reasons, want to give up masturbation is this: If your God didn't want us to masturbate, wouldn't He have made our arms shorter?

Like many things on campus, Roose is surprised to discover a range of attitudes about sex. The party line, of course, is no premarital sex. But even among those who have taken a "purity pledge" there is no telling who is having sex and who isn't. Roose cites the same figures I have heard about those who take the "True Love Waits" vow - that 85% of them don't keep it. This really doesn't surprise me. What I find offensive, though, about the way figures are thrown around by those who organize the purity pledges, is that I've often heard them give statistics that would have some believe that condoms are only 80% effective in preventing pregnancy and STDs. This number is misleading, in that the 20% failure rate includes those times when condoms are not used at all. If we are to apply the same logic to abstinence we have to say it fails 85% of the time.

Friday, September 11, 2009

On Missionaries

One of Roose's big challenges was attempting to evangelize to "spring breakers" in Daytona Beach. As he points out, it is hard to market a product you don't believe in. He, along with the other Liberty Students who go on the mission trip, experience open hostility from many of those they approach, a high frustration level amongst themselves, and virtually no converts when the week is over.

I have been approached at many times in my life by missionaries from the Mormon faith, the Jehova's Witnesses, and Evangelical Christians. I try not to be hostile to those who would interupt my Saturday morning, or my quiet walk, however, I do make it clear that I am not interested to listen to their speil. My dog is a big help with this. Of course, it was hard for me to ignore the pitch the time I willingly walked into a missionary compound in the Amazon. My husband wanted to visit the "American" village there. The conversation started out fine with small talk, but became uncomfortable quickly when I was asked what church I attended. I was informed that the Unitarian Universalist church was "very dangerous" (even though the woman had never even heard of it before she met me) and that I needed to read the Bible. There seemed to be some attempt to make me feel guilty for living in the United States and not being a Christian, when there were people all over the world who didn't even know about Christianity.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Oh what a tangled web we weave

When Kevin Roose arrives at Liberty University he is vague about where he transferred from (Brown) and allows all to believe he is "saved". This is difficult for him. He took a "crash course" in born-againism from his only born again friend before arriving, but has trouble learning how to curse in Christianese and feels awkward praying for the first few times. The deception takes on a new dimenstion when he begins dating and making friends, and he feels bad about the lie he is living. I cringed when I read the recount of the "I'll call you" conversation he had with the young woman he was seeing, instead of being honest with her. How did guys give women the brush off before the telephone was invented, I wonder?

Roose does have a self-perception, and understanding of academe, that I don't often see in young college students, though. As he begins to feel unsettled he says "I'm starting to wish that I had a PhD in anthropology, so I'd be able to contexualize all this new information immediately, shuffling it into categories and translating it to academic jargon". This is way beyond anything I understood about myself, or the ivory tower, when I was a sophomore in college. Additionally, he looks up credentials of some of his professors to see what peer-reviewed journals they've been published in. Again, as an undergraduate I wasn't even aware that there were such things as peer-reviewed journals.

Roose later discovers that there are pockets of non-evangelicals on campus. It would have been so much easier for him to have just told people he hadn't been saved yet, and let them pray for him. It is also true that not all anthropologists have the option of trying to blend in with the people they are studying. I wonder what he learns by pretending, that might have been lost if he were more up front about what he was doing in the first place.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

A crust shared... Wrapping up Majumdar

James and I finished reading Eat My Globe this weekend. Majumdar certainly did make a valiant effort to "go everywhere and eat everything" in one year. Like Eric Weiner he tried the harkl (rotten shark meat) in Iceland in the dead of winter, as well as rat, snake, dog, camel and seahorse, in various other locales. As James suggests in his guest post of August 28, the personal connections Majumdar makes during his journey seem to be what truly makes his quest worthwhile. His arrival in Senegal, for instance, is less than auspicious, but once he makes a connection with his new friend, Bath, Senegal becomes one of his favorite places.

In some places he mentions that he finds a lot of restaurants that cater to homesick Europeans and Americans, that don't serve the traditional, local fare. He usually skips these places and keeps looking until he finds something more authentic. Who can blame him? If you are out to "eat everything" you certainly don't want to waste time with "chips and eggs". Even if you don't want to eat everything (and Majumdar does include a list of 10 things he ate so we don't have to) trying some local food is worthwhile. When my family travels, we try to find out what local delicacies are to try. We didn't know about "pasties", for example, before we went to the upper peninsula, or yoopie, of Michigan, or "beef on weck" before our visit to Niagara Falls. One thing we only learned about through YouTube is Food on a Stick at the Minnesota State Fair

Last night James and I had celebrated with tasty wrap up of the book at Westport Rivers Vineyard at their "5-mile" dinner. All the food served was grown or raised within 5 miles of the winery. I think Majumdar would have heartily approved of this very local meal, which included super-fresh soft cheese and basil that literally melted in my mouth, delectable chicken braised in wine, fresh local vegetables and potatoes, with fresh blueberry buckle for dessert. The two appetizers, and main course were each perfectly paired with wine from the vineyard.

I learned once at a library workshop on making the library a "destination" to try to strike a balance for visitors between entertainment and education as well as making the experience active and passive. Westport Rivers has definitely found this "sweet spot". The evening began with a sunset tour of the vineyard and explanation of fermentation process. At dinner we were seated at a table for 9, with a family of seven that included 3 generations. We enjoyed meeting some new folks and had a good conversation. This was the third experience dinner I have had at Westport Winery. If you are ever on Massachusetts South Coast check out the Winery's website to see if they have one scheduled. In the summer enjoy their free sunset music series on Friday nights.

To find out more about Simon Majumdar visit his website at http://www.doshermanos.co.uk/
Read his blog at eatmyglobe.blogspot.com

Friday, September 4, 2009

New book - The Unlikely Disciple

Wow, it is only September 4 and I am already on my third "Back to School" book. The Unlikely Disciple, by Kevin Roose, is actually a "semester of" book. It does otherwise fit the genre: a memoir about a personal change covering a specific period of time. In this case Roose, a student at Brown University , transfers for one semester to Liberty University, Rev. Jerry Falwell's so-called "Bible Boot-Camp". He likens the experience to a semester abroad, as the Christian culture is so foreign to him, and convinces his dean of such. I was interested to learn that, Roose worked for A.J. Jacobs while Jacobs was writing his Year of Living Biblically. It is not surprising to know that both Roose and his mentor were given the same warning before embarking on their quests: basically, not to expect that they would not be changed by the experience. We know how it worked out for Jacobs.

The Unlikely Disciple comes to me by way of the Cambridge (Massachusetts) Public Library.

To find out more about Kevin Roose, visit his website at http://www.kevinroose.com/

High School

So, I did go back to High School, the book, that is, as I suggested I might on my post of Augst 27. One thing that David Owen was able to do, that Rebekah Nathan could not, was pass as a younger person. He would not have been able to do the work if he didn't look like a 17 year old. Nathan was in her 50s when she did her research and so could only pose as a 50 year old. She did not invent a story about herself, but few people asked anyway. Mostly she was just evasive, and did, in fact, "come out" to a few people when pressed. Owen never let on to anyone what he was really doing. He had some fear that his classmates might think he was a "narc" if they found out that he wasn't a real student. He doesn't go to any lengths to protect his identity once he leaves "Bingham" high though. His picture and biography are both on the book jacket. He just assumes no one in his class reads enough to come across his book. I even remember seeing him on the old teen talk show, Livewire, discussing his book back in the day.

Owen's passage about the school library does indicate that reading is not a big pastime at Bingham. "[S]tudents are not allowed inside the library unless they have a pass from an instructor certifying that they have an actual need to be among books.... Use of the library was unrestricted during the twenty minutes before school and the hour and thiry minutes after, but...I never saw another student, except two girls...who worked as assistant librarians [sic]." Students were not expected to use the library and rarely checked books out. In his semester at Bingham he only ever saw 4 students reading a book that was not assigned.

Sadly, his description of the school library could have been written by anyone I went to high school with in the 1980s. I wonder if anything has changed. In addition to the high school library, Woodlawn Sr. High was next door to the Woodlawn branch of the Baltimore County Public Library. I remember that students who were members of the honor society were given the privledge of going there during lunch hour or study hall. I guess the rest of us were considered too dumb to use the library. I remember one time sneaking across the school parking lot with my friend Stacey (that girl wasn't afraid of anything) to the public library to return a book, and thinking that it would be pretty ironic if I really got in trouble for going to the library.

David Owen's book was the first one this year that I actually found on the shelves of the Clement C. Maxwell library, the one in which I work.

My Freshman Year wrap up

The last chapter in Nathan's book is called "Lessons from my year as a freshman". She includes a piece on what she discovered about the students' relationship with the college library. She finds out some statistics about the use of interlibrary loan and learns that only about 3%-4% of the undergraduate student body used the service in the previous year. She said the librarian she spoke with thought that better advertising of this free service might have more students using it. Nathan, the student, however, has another thought on why this service is so underused. "For most papers that an undergraduate will complete, the window of time that the student typically creates to write a paper is a few day, at most a week, and more likley one evening. If a source is not available within this window, it is unlikely that it will be used." She goes on to suggest that online sources are probably where libraries should devote their resources. She is probably right.

Another thing I wanted to mention about Nathan's book, that thrilled me, was that she used the word "women" when writing about her female classmates. I am still surprised that my women colleagues do not use the term "women" when talking about the students in their classes. When I was an undergraduate we fought for this label. "Girls" is not an appropriate term to describe adults, which virtually all of our students are. I always refer to my students as men and women. In hope that the idea that they are grown ups will rub off on them!

And finally...
I don't think I can sum it up any better than Nathan does when she says "[m]ost professors and administrators overestimate the role that academics plays in student culture..."

A library without books? Sniff, sniff

I am deeply distressed over an article in today's Boston Globe. It seems Cushing Academy, a prep school here in Massachusetts, has opened this year without a library. The article actually is called Welcome to the Library. Say Goodbye to the Books indicating that the library has gone digital. But according to the article, more than books were lost. "Where the reference desk was, they are building a $50,000 coffee shop that will include a $12,000 cappuccino machine." What exactly does the administration think happens at a reference desk? Regular readers of my blog know that I value coffee, almost as much as books, and libraries, but can a cappuccino machine tell you how to find the full-text of an article online, explain how to navigate a web-page, and teach you how to explore the depths of the internet, or unjam the printer for that matter?

The article goes on to say that students weren't using the books "School officials said when they checked library records one day last spring only 48 books had been checked out, and 30 of those were children’s books." The wording here is sufficiently vague so that I cannot tell whether 48 books were checked out on that specfic day; or, if 48 books happened to be checked out on the day in question; or if 48 books had been checked out the entire year. In any case, perhaps the reason students weren't checking out books is because they haven't been encouraged to?

"When I look at books, I see an outdated technology, like scrolls before books,’’ said James Tracy, headmaster of Cushing and chief promoter of the bookless campus. This vision makes me wonder if Tracy has seen the tongue-in-cheek YouTube video Introducing the Book.

I was encouraged, however, by this article from the New York Times, which clearly demonstates a love of reading among New York City subway riders.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

What else I read

I recently finished reading While I was Gone by Sue Miller. (Can it be that I read The Good Mother 20 years ago? ) While I was Gone was an Oprah's Book Club pick, so I knew it would be emotionally charged. This one really lulls the reader with bulcolic images of New England, and a happy marriage, before letting the other shoe drop.

On cheating

Where there are students there is cheating. All polls indicate that it widespread among college students. Even as a professor, though, I recognize that some forms of cheating are worse than others. I expect there are some things that others might view as cheating that I accept, such as working on homework together. I expect that students see some forms as less severe than others also, and that they may use situational ethics in some cases to justify what they are doing. Hey, I was a student myself, once! I also know that in some situations, mainly when it comes to citing sources, students may not understand that what they are doing constitutes plagiarism.

It must have been hard for Nathan (the student) to see cheating going on around her and not reporting it. Before she undertook her project she gave "formal notice to the university the [she]would 'relinquish [her] role as an officer of the university'" making clear that she would not report any violations of "university policy or public law."

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

On student reading

One thing that Nathan points out is that "students simply don't do the required readings for class". "I'm not kidding", she continues,  "[i]n certain classes the professor would be lucky if one-third of the studnts read the materials at a level of basic comprehension." I would be thrilled if I could count on one third. I have often been the only one in the room who did any preparation for the class!

International Students

Rebekah Nathan interviewed several international students for her book. She found that rarely are they asked about their own lives or countries, instead U.S. citizens touted their own country as the best in the world, even if they had never been anywhere else. Furthermore, international students felt that their U.S. counterparts were either impatient with them if they struggled with the language or if their accent was difficult to understand.

It would be wonderful if all young people had the opportunity to travel abroad, but for those who can't, having an international experience is as easy as talking to someone from another country. Ask them something about themselves. I sometimes ask students in my Spanish class who among them finds it hard learning another language. Most say it is. I ask them to keep that in mind the next time they meet someone who doesn't speak English as well as they do. I am happy if at the end of the semester that is all they take with them. I am ecstatic if they remember enough to actually use their Spanish sometime, and go over the moon when they contact me to tell me about it.

Coffee and Tea

Majumdar makes a pilgrimage to Darjeeling producer of "the finest black teas in the world". Much of what he learned and saw was similar to what James and know know about the coffee trade as well. The tea tasting (called "cupping" in the coffee biz) is a spectacle involving slurping, spitting, and some very sophisticated palates. Workers on the tea plantation (the Goomtee Guesthouse) he visited worked extremely hard and were rewarded with schooling, housing, health care and meals, as well as wages. This was true also at the Selva Negra Estate in Nicaragua which grows coffee. However, I do not want to give the impression that this is typical of the treatment of coffee and tea workers on most farms or plantations. The vast majority of coffee, tea, and cocoa workers are paid poor wages, may or may not have housing and meals provided, and if so, only during the harvest season, perhaps 3 months of the year. Children do not necessarily go to school. Coffee farmers we have met often have no idea how much their crop is worth, and sell it for a price so low it may well represent a loss. Meanwhile the coffee is sold by the cup in New York City for the equivalent of $80 a pound (that represents a price by the cup at a coffee shop). To find out more please visit http://webhost.bridgew.edu/jhayesboh/COFFEE/index.html

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

They're Baaaaaack

Yes, kids, it is Back-to-School time. Students here moved in to the dorms over the weekend and have been engaged in "Welcome Week" activities. Here at the library we are motivating students academically by passing out cookies and raffling off a teddy bear and a hoodie. Tomorrow is the first day of classes. Traffic woes have begun, as well as the parties. We live next door to a student rental house, and heard the start of the year partying go on last night until the wee hours of the morning. This morning I found a huge empy bottle of Absolute Raspberry on the Devil Strip in front of my yard.

I actually don't mean to give the impression that I don't like having students back on campus. I have, in truth, been looking forward to it. Sometimes the summer can be deadly boring without them, and most of them are respectful and try their best. The student workers at the library are smart and funny and provide great insight and I was glad to see them again.

Nathan's book begins with her introduction to the campus as a student beginning with orientation and "welcome week." As a student she finds much of what she learns quite bewildering. I was actually a bit nervous for her -glad that I wasn't the one having to negotiate all the first day stuff. I was especially interested to read that she had trouble finding her way around campus. As a faculty member she drove from building to building and parked in faculty lots at each. As a student, however, she had to leave her car in one place and walk, or bus, wherever she needed to go. She not only had to find buildings she had never been in before, she sometimes didn't know how to get to buildings she only knew how to drive to. As a "college neighbor" myself, I rarely drive on campus, but I suspect that few of my faculty colleagues do, once they have parked their car. People on this campus tend to walk to meetings. We do have campus bus service, but I don't hear faculty and staff talking about using it. I imagine this is one thing students understand better than faculty.